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Visitors at the Sale Gallery are seen viewing the scale model development at Forest City in the Iskandar Region, Johor, Malaysia on 4 August 2017. Source: KOH MUI FONG/ TODAYONLINE

No prohibition on foreign buyers, says Johor’s Forest City project developer

The developer of the US$100bil Forest City residential project in Johor has disputed claims that Malaysian Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad had announced that the Government will bar foreigners from purchasing homes in the project.

In a press statement yesterday (27 Aug), Country Garden Pacificview suggested that the Prime Minister's remarks might have been "taken out of context".

The property developer also referred to the National Land Code, which states that foreign individuals and foreign corporations alike are permitted to purchase land in Malaysia with the permission of the State Authority.

Country Garden Pacificview added that contrary to the information that has been circulating of late, it does not offer visas or any permanent residency to foreign individuals who purchase units in its Forest City project.

The property developer has also highlighted that it has contacted Dr Mahathir's office to seek clarification regarding his purported statement.

Dr Mahathir said in a news conference in the capital city of Kuala Lumpur on Monday that the project "that is going to be built cannot be sold to foreigners".

According to Reuters, he said that that the Government is "not going to give visas for people to come and live here", as is unfair to "most Malaysians" who "are unable to buy those flats" that such residential properties are being "built for foreigners".

There appears to be some truth in his claim, considering that Chinese nationals make up the majority of the buyers of apartments under Forest City, while Malaysians and buyers of other nationalities are in the minority of 20 per cent.

Dr Mahathir allegedly added that as many as 700,000 Chinese nationals will be imported through the project and granted Malaysian identity cards, which would have enabled them to cast votes in the next elections.

The Forest City development is one of several China-linked projects in Malaysia, which the Prime Minister branded as proof of former premier Najib Razak's act of "selling" the country to China.

An insider from Singapore that was interviewed by The Star Online revealed the apprehension regarding the possibility of a property purchase ban against foreigners, particularly its impact on Singaporeans:

What will happen to the value of the condos in Forest City? Who would want to rent and who can now afford to buy them off me if foreigners cannot? The majority of the current owners of Forest City are mainland Chinese and to a small extent Singaporeans. They will be bitterly disappointed.

The source added:

The group’s project at Country Garden Danga Bay will also be affected. It now faces a more daunting task of selling the balance units at Danga Bay of about 2,000 units. So, will other key Chinese developers like R&F Princess Cove and Greenland Group in Iskandar be affected?